miercuri, 27 iulie 2011

Can Aikido Breakfalls Really Protect You?


Aikido Breakfalls are for breaking the force of a fall to the ground without experiencing an injury. On the other hand, ukemi is the ability to receive a technique or fall safely and recover your balance.

Learning how to develop good Aikido breakfalls is very difficult to achieve. Many Aikido students do not focus on the skill of receiving techniques, as their main aim is on becoming a good performer of technique.

One of the reasons is that people in the West are generally highly competitive. Most of us have been taught to put ourselves first, and that winning is better than losing. This means that we tend to concentrate more on performing techniques, and winning, rather than receiving, and losing.

This way of thinking is rather egotistical and selfish, and the art of Aikido addresses this problem directly. In order to take we must first give. So by focusing a little more on helping our training partner, we will in turn be helping ourselves.

In my many travels of Aikido dojo, I have found hundreds of students that are fairly good at performing techniques. But, most dojo only have a couple of good uke, that are good enough be used for demonstrations. This is because the goal of most students is to win and perform well.

You can be different and truly excel at the art by looking closely at Aikido breakfalls and ukemi practise.

By working on your falls a little more, you can develop to a much higher level. It will give you the confidence to allow yourself to be of use to your training partner, by not resisting their techniques. This helps their skills and yours, a win-win situation, that removes the conflict from the connection.

I will briefly look at some of the Aikido breakfalls you will learn during your Aikido training...

Back Breakfalls

These are first learned by lying down flat on your back on the mat. Bend your knees, so your heels are flat on the floor, with arms held palm-down at 45 degrees from your body. Lift your head, with your chin touching your chest. This strengthens your neck muscles, and protects your head from hitting the ground if you fall.

Then, lift your arms up and slap the ground with your fingers, palms and forearms all sharing the impact. Repeat several times, and breathe out each time you hit. When you can do these backward slaps comfortably from lying down, move on to...

From a sitting position, roll back, making sure your chin is tucked well in and exhale strongly. Slap the ground, and repeat several times. Then try from a squatting position with your buttocks sitting on your heels. Tuck in your chin and curve your spine, and allow your body to roll backwards so your back hits the floor. You should force your breath out sharply, and slap the mat just as you touch it, repeat several times.

Practise this until you can do it without jarring your body, with no feeling of shock. Eventually you can try it from a standing position. Stand up straight, bend your knees and lower your buttocks close to the ground, and place one foot slightly behind the other. Roll onto your back, and continue as before.

Side Breakfalls

You should already be able to perform back falls before you try to learn side falls, which are just one-armed, one-sided back breakfalls. For example, you would fall on your side if the person throwing you is still hanging on to one of your arms.

Remember, your arm should be about 45 degrees from your body when it hits the mat. Immediately after, you should withdraw your arm to protect your chest or face to block a punch or kick.

Practise by dropping your legs to on side, and slap the ground with the arm nearest the mat palm down at 45 degrees. Your hip, knee and the whole side of your leg and calf should be flat on the mat. Your other leg should be bent at the knee, with your foot flat on the ground.

Forward Breakfalls

Forward Rolls are very important because they get you back up onto your feet immediately, so you can continue defending yourself. Before you try rolling falls, you should already know back and side ones.

Rolling breakfalls are impressive to watch, especially during a demonstration. But they take a lot of practice. When your body falls at speed, you need to protect your head and neck, and spread the shock to protect your arms and legs.

You accomplish this by making your body into a circle, where your body rolls. The energy is absorbed along the edge of the circle, and nothing gets damaged. Practise on tatami, gymnasium mats, or wrestling mats.

Think of your shoulders, arms and hands as a hoop or a circle. Roll along your extended hand and arm, shoulder, the center of your back, your spine, buttocks, legs and feet. You must train your body so it touches the ground all along this pathway each time you do a rolling fall.

High Breakfalls

Kote-gaeshi Aikido breakfalls are how you escape from a very nasty arm break in Aikido or Ju Jitsu. If you don't know how to leap over your own arm quickly, and land with a good side fall, your arm may snap when someone hits you with a kotegaeshi throw at full power.

The kote-gaeshi fall is not for Aikido beginners, and you need to build up your ukemi skills before you even try this. You would start learning slowly and carefully by practising with a partner in the dojo.

Once you get you used to timing your break fall to the actions of someone else, you can then practice increasing the power of the move until you are actually being thrown into the break fall.

In meeting the mat try to distribute as much force throughout your body as possible in the most relaxed manner. It takes a lot of practice to achieve the correct timing, and allow your body to distribute the force.

Always practise safely with a qualified instructor in a training hall and using safety mats!

Tony Wilden
Aikido Health Centre

Tony Wilden has been studying health and spirituality for over 30 years and Aikido since 1985. He founded the Arun Aikido Club in West Sussex UK in 1992, and has given dozens of demo's and 1000's of health treatments.

He offers junior & adult Aikido classes, self defence courses, private lessons & pressure points to individuals & small groups. He is the director of the Aikido Health Centre Website at... http://www.aikido-health.com and is the author of 3 unique ebooks... Aikido Success Blueprint, Aikido First Aid Kit, and Optimum Health Secrets.

You can get his free Harmony newsletter that offers original Aikido & Health tips... and surprise gifts. All delivered every month, straight to your email inbox... http://www.aikido-health.com/Ezine.html

Copyright 2010 - All Rights Reserved - Tony Wilden - Aikido Health Centre

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